Let’s start by understanding that I don’t recommend selling this way as a regular strategy. This is something that I have seen work quite well when used in very specific situations on a limited basis. At the start of writing this, I cannot think of anywhere that I have read this or of any reputable source that proposes this method. In that sense, what I am suggesting is based on 14 years of personal experience, and not on any scholarly evidence. No danger of a “book report” this time.
There are times when you will meet with someone whom rapport is impossible to achieve. In this case, many times you cannot garner the information you need to make a sale. The customer is so acutely conscious of not revealing anything, that there is no way to get the knowledge you need, even if you are following the rules established in the previous “Listen Up” post. In this case the customer has a “sales defense” on.
Aikido-The art of using one’s own momentum against himself
I took some of this years back (I’m by no means an expert, I spent much more time in the ring doing Muay Thai then I did on the mat doing Aikido) and always loved this idea. In analyzing the Take Away, it seems this is the closest comparison I can make. You are going to use the potential client’s reluctance to listen and be sold to against him, leading him into a sale.
Let’s role play a moment. I have a customer who has revealed nothing I can use to actually demonstrate the value of a product to his individual situation. I start to approach the idea of the product or service and he quickly throws out an “I’m not intereseted” statement. If I launch into a benefits of the product diatribe here, I am in a losing stance. Any argument is percieved as a refusal to listen to what the customer said, or to sell a product for selling’s sake, as I have no real world knowledge of its actual use to the client.
What to do? Agree with them.
Concede the sale immediately. As you are conceding, relate that you heard what they said, and that the main reason most folks buy the product is ‘X’ but obviously the customer is not in need of that benefit, so lets move on to the next item. Something funny will most likely happen. They will ask you to go back and relate more about ‘X’. Now the momentum has shifted, and they have allowed you to regain control of the interaction and most likely, get a chance to make the sale.
Here is the most common way I used this, with an example very specific to the company I was working for. Remember, the product is insignificant to the method. You could use this in selling anything.
Our company sold structured wiring, alarm systems, home theater and distributed audio and oh yeah. . .central vacuum. Here is how that conversation went.
Me: “Mr. Smith, it looks like we have all the wiring in place for your home entertainment and home office needs, as well as a system in place designed to protect your family’s safety. Let’s take a minute and talk about central vacuum. . . “
Customer: (interrupting mid sentence) ” We’re not interested in that at all. . . (Insert excuse here, ‘Our house is one story’ or ‘We have a Kirby’ or ‘I don’t like the 30 foot hose’ etc)”
Me: “I understand. You have to spend your money where you get the most value. (identify with the specific objection ‘I have a Kirby too’ etc)”
So far so good, now employ the Take Away.
Me: “Most people I meet that buy central vacuum do so because someone in the family has allergies or asthma, and central vacuum greatly improves the indoor air quality. You don’t have any issues with air quality, so lets not waste time and go on to Home Theater. Do you have a surround sound system in your current house?”
Customer: “Wait, what was that about central vacuum and air quality?”
Me: “Oh that. Well UC Berkley did a study that showed symptoms of allergy sufferers, nasal drip, watery eyes, etc, were reduced 40-60% when a home had central vacuum. This is because a vacuum allows particles to escape through pores in the bags, etc, where as in central vacuum, the actual vacuum and container are in the garage, so the dirt actually leaves the house for good. Is that something you think your family’s health could benefit from?”
Now that the customer has engaged you, you have been invited to sell the product or service. You receive an audience you were not originally privy to. The Take Away works because it is unassuming. It is a flank attack as you back out the door. It is just a method, there still needs to be a genuine potential benefit to the customer. If there is none, this cannot work, but in most cases we sell things people find useful in some way, so you just need a chance to state your case. This can do that beautifully, setting you up for what we will talk about next. . . FAB Selling.